Kerala floods: UN report blames poor drainage capacity of canals

Panchayats continue to turn a blind eye on encroachment of canals for road widening and other construction purposes.

Published: 07th December 2018 04:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th December 2018 04:26 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Even as the state government continues to blame heavy rainfall for floods that devastated Kerala, the Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) report of the United Nations (UN) has cited low flood storage capacity in reservoirs and poor drainage capacity of canals and sea outlets as the major reasons for severity of floods, apart from heavy rains. 

While the draft PDNA report, presented earlier to the state, pegged the rebuild cost at over Rs 27,000 crore in the next five years, the 427-page comprehensive report mentioned in detail the reasons that caused floods, in the chapter ‘Flood Diagnostics.’ 

“The accumulation of several simultaneous and unique phenomena resulted in extreme floods in Kerala. These include extreme rainfall, immediate runoff, low flood storage capacity in reservoirs, poor drainage capacity of canals and sea outlets and high spring tides,” the report said.

The report, referring to the findings of the Central Water Commission, said, “The overall drainage capacity to the sea of Kuttanad water body is far below the original capacity of the structures and the drainage canals/rivers draining towards them. The siltation of these canals, together with the overall poor state of maintenance, has drastically reduced their capacities.”

On dam management, the report said, “Of course, protocols should be adhered to and these include operational rules for not only optimising power generation, irrigation supply and safeguarding of the dam but also for downstream flood protection when heavy rains occur.”

“It’s a fact that canals failed to properly carry the flood water to the sea. Panchayats continue to turn a blind eye on encroachment of canals for road widening and other construction purposes. We have taken the issue seriously and will soon put in place a mechanism for proper maintenance of canals and spillways,” said Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue and Disaster Management, Environment) P H Kurian.

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